April 16, 2017 - Easter Sunday: Pastor’s Corner
I recently had the pleasure of seeing the movie Arrival. Primarily set in the rugged beauty of Montana, it is a timeless first contact story reminiscent of classics such as E.T. and The Day the Earth Stood Still. Like any successful science fiction work, beyond the adventure of the story, Arrival presents much philosophical food for thought. Through the arc of the dramatic narrative, the film explores themes such a free will versus determinism and the correlation between language and thought. One particularly evocative theme of Arrival consists in its reflection on the relationship between life and suffering. At the decisive moment in the story, the main protagonist, a linguistics professor named Louis Banks (played by Amy Adams), has a critical decision to make. Aware of that, if she elects to enter into a life-giving relationship, her future will include heart rending suffering and loss, she has the option to avoid this hardship by choosing comfort and the familiar. Since the film does not neatly answer every question about her decision, the choice to embrace life in the face of inevitable suffering is highlighted. Arrival invites the consideration that human life is not simply about being comfortable. Avoidance of the suffering which is part of our nature, make us less human. The fullness of human life and joys experienced not by escaping, but by embracing, the reality of suffering and loss.
This connection between the fullness of human life and suffering is at the heart of the mystery of our own salvation story. Jesus came to earth, not only to take on our human nature, but to suffer and die for love of us. Jesus knows that his mission to bring eternal life necessarily passes through the crucible of Holy Week travail. Jesus experiences the totality of human suffering: betrayal, denial, abandonment, physical and emotional torture, and excruciating death. But it is through this suffering that the power of Resurrection and eternal life flows. There is no Easter without Good Friday. No eternal life without the experience of suffering and death.
We too have a decisive choice to make. We can live life seeking the comfortable and path of least resistance. If we are honest, many of our own choices reflect this sort of thinking. This is reasonable, since our culture promotes comfort. But Jesus shows us a different path. To love others, even our enemies! To give of ourselves, even when it means personal sacrifice. To forgive those who injure us. To face our fears in order to grow in virtue. This is the greatness of life Christ calls us to embrace. Easter celebrates the greatness of Resurrection life.
I invite you this Easter season to experience the new life which Christ offers you this year. Mindful of your own sufferings and struggles, fears and anxieties, you have a choice to make. You can live simply in avoidance, seeking what is personally comfortable and safe. But you were not created for comfort. You are made for greatness. St. Dominic’s community of believers are united together to support each other in striving for this greatness. Whether you are a regular or it’s been awhile since you’ve been to St. Dominic’s, know that you are welcome every Sunday. In fact, I guarantee that if you continue to join us to worship after Easter, you will experience life in a more vibrant and dynamic way. When you embrace, and live your faith, you will know the fullness of life in the Lord. On behalf of the Dominican brothers and St. Dominic’s staff, may the life of the Risen Christ animate your minds and hearts!
- Fr. Michael Hurley, O.P., Pastor